Is It Mount De-sert or Mount Des-ert?

Just a short drive up the Maine coast on Thursday to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.  Home to Bar Harbor and much of Acadia National Park.  Mount Desert (typically pronounced des-ert) is the 6th largest island in the contiguous United States.

Some famous past and present residents include:

  • David Rockefeller & Family, Ford Family
  • Cap Weinberger, Secretary of Defense under President Reagan
  • Martha Stewart
  • Actors Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, John Travolta, etc.

Acadia National Park is the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi River. It is also the 8th National Park we visited this year!

Mt. Desert Island is a big island with two main lobes, several small towns and lots of little peninsulas that jut out into the sea. Acadia National Park takes up much of the land, and the whole island is fun to explore.



“One of the most unique aspects of how Acadia National Park formed is that it is thanks to the vision and donations of private citizens who anticipated the dangers that over-development would bring to this area and acted to prevent it”. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., played a critical role by building the  famous carriage roads and by donating over 11,000 acres of land. The Carriage roads were built for those wanting to travel on motor-free byways via horse and carriage.

We drove the park loop, a 27 mile park owned road around the park. We stopped several places to take in the views including Cadillac Mountain.



We wanted to catch sunset at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Carl scrambled down the rocks while I settled for the path and ramp. His photo I am sure will be spectacular… is mine just to show what it looks like.IMG_8778.jpg

Rocky shorelines are the norm.IMG_8809.jpg

Another National Park token for our collection.IMG_8775.jpg

We are spending three days here at Acadia …so much to see and take in.

It Started With A Boot

“In 1911, an avid outdoorsman named Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean returned from a hunting trip with cold, damp feet and a revolutionary idea. L.L. enlisted a local cobbler to stitch leather uppers to workmen’s rubber boots, creating a comfortable, functional boot for exploring the Maine woods”. And from that boot, an empire was born.

Since we were in Maine, I was adamant I that I wanted to go to L.L. Bean. Well, we did. It is a huge store…..that is it, nothing more. My desire is satisfied and we moved on.  Another thing checked off the bucket list.


Next stop was near Camden. We set up Seymour and headed out to find some Maine seafood. We stopped at Claws, in the Lobster Capital of the World – Rockland Maine.


As we walked up to the counter, another couple was just leaving. They asked us if we had ever eaten here before and told us we MUST order the lobster roll and a side of fries…..we didn’t argue. It was delicious.  (**Interesting fact, until tonight I had never had lobster)IMG_8701.jpg

After dining on the porch of the restaurant (no indoor seating) We drove over to Owl’s Head Lighthouse. It is a stubby little thing, only 30 feet tall. However it is situated on a point of land that is quite prominent, so it does the job. The tower was build in 1852 and it has one of the last six Fresnel lenses in operation in Maine.IMG_8721.jpg

So tonight will be interesting. Seymour is parked beneath an oak tree or two or three. The banging on the roof by the acorns that are falling is not only noisy, but startling. Cooper is not a fan, not sure we are either. Wish us luck in getting any sleep.


The Hidden Life

In light of the fact we are leaf peeping on the east coast, I thought I should read the newly published book “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben. The author says that trees communicate, in fact this “wood wide web” allows trees to share food, water and information. Trees are all connected, and the extent to which they grow strong and healthy depends to a great degree on how much they can depend on one another. In other words, it takes a forest”.


He also explains “the process of a deciduous tree preparing for winter. If it drops its leaves too early, it loses valuable photosynthesizing and food production time. If it drops its leaves too late, it risks losing entire branches, made more vulnerable to high winds when in full leaf, in October and November storms. The problem of when to drop leaves is a “decision” that individual trees make differently. And considering that different trees very close to each other make the decision at various times, “the timing of the leaf drop, it seems, really is question of character.”


And then there is this: “The average tree grows its branches out until it encounters the branch tips of a neighboring tree of the same height. It doesn’t grow any wider because the air and better light in this space are already taken. However, it heavily reinforces the branches it has extended, so you get the impression that there’s quite a shoving match going on up there. But a pair of true friends is careful right from the outset not to grow overly thick branches in each other’s direction. The trees don’t want to take anything away from each other, and so they develop sturdy branches only at the outer edges of their crowns, that is to say, only in the direction of “non-friends.” Such partners are often so tightly connected at the roots that sometimes they even die together.



We decided to spend another night in Littleton and drive the “loop” today. We drove through the White Mountains along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. This was mostly National Forest land with beautiful vistas. The color is starting to change and views are fabulous.


This is the “Grand Hotel” of the area. it is Mt. Washington Resort and is on the National Register.


….and  of course…..covered bridges!



It Is Debate Day!

Finally after all the hoopla, debate day is finally here. I have been interested in this debate for quite a while.

** Election notice……..we have driven through 4 states and have seen only a handful of yard signs for the presidential election.  I think we have seen more Gary Johnson (Libertarian) than Trump or Clinton signs.

IMG_8629.jpgOur debate today is what flavor of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream to try. Each one has it’s merits.

The winner  –  STEPHEN COLBERT’S AMERICONE DREAM!  (It also happened to be the free sample passed out at he factory today.


We also paid our respects to the past flavors at the flavor graveyard.IMG_8624.jpg




In a blink of an eye we were in New Hampshire! We headed for the White Mountains, dropped off Seymour with the good folks at KOA in Littleton and headed out to Mt. Washington.

At 6,288 ft above sea level, Mt. Washington is not the highest mountain we have been on this year however it does have the wickedest weather! It is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. Today was a beautiful day to climb the mountain as only about 60 days a year have good visibility and clear skies at the top, and this was one of them. We took the 140 year old  Cog Railway  ( a straight up the mountain trip) to the summit which has the worst weather in America!



Mount Washington once held the world record and still holds the Northern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere record for directly measured surface wind speed, at 231 mph (372 km/h), recorded on the afternoon of April 12, 1934.

Beautiful view on a beautiful day.


I’ll Take “Lakes” for $1,000, Alex

This lake is located in both the United States and Canada and is considered the sixth largest lake in the US.










We drove 5 hours east from Alexandria Bay, New York to the Burlington Vermont area. Nice drive across the northern part of New York along the St. Lawrence River. It seemed like every 5 miles we passed another small town….lots of towns, not a lot in them. In addition to the 1000 islands, it has 1000 small towns.

By the way, we did start seeing some fall color as we drove further inland.



The middle of Lake Champlain is the state line between New York and Vermont. There is also a highway running through the islands dotting the lake as well as a highway on the west and east of the lake. We chose the middle road….is was a lovely drive past lakefront homes, resorts and farms.

We found a campground just outside of Burlington (Vermont’s largest city) and after we set up camp we drove into town to walk through the Church Street Mall. The street is closed to vehicles for several blocks  with many restaurants and stores available to pedestrians along with many opportunities for outdoor dining, street venders, and buskers of all styles.

It was also very dog friendly. Copper was photographed by an artist for inspiration,and petted by many.


A water fountain along the mall


On the Earth Line

I had never heard of the Earth Line before so I found a little more info. You can check it out here…..


Not only dog friendly, but artist friendly too  🙂IMG_8606.jpg

I am sad to say I didn’t buy one…..but I wish I had 😦     Maybe I will see the shirts somewhere else.


If it is called Church Street, there must be a church!


and of course, if it is Vermont, there must be a


peace, love and ice cream!

Frightening Phragmites!

We have been amazed by the masses of phragmites growing along the roadsides. We started noticing it just east of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada and it has continued throughout Canada and then New York. The growth is so dense, nothing could ever get through it. I have not seen this dense growth of phragmites in Les Cheneaux area (at least in Cedarville Bay) and hope I never do!



We took the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge from Niagra Falls, Canada to New York. As it turns out, that is the fourth-busiest commercial land crossing between Canada and the United States and is typically the worst choice for crossing the border in the Niagara area! Our wait was about one hour. I asked the customs agent if it was abnormally busy and he told me that waits of 4+ hours are not unusual in July and August. Consider yourself warned and plan your route accordingly!

We also took US 90 east to Syracuse before heading north toward the 1000 Island area. We were unaware that US 90 was a toll road and our charge would be $24.35 by the time we got off. No problem, but we were surprised at the amount.

We settled in Alexandria Bay, New York for both Friday and Saturday nights. This is in the heart of the 1000 Island region of the St. Lawrence Seaway and very picturesque. Carl took advantage of our time there by visiting the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY. This museum in addition to indoor displays has lots of area for dockage on the St. Lawrence River. Clayton is also home to the first and longest running antique boat show.

We also took a cruise through the islands… reminiscent of our Les Cheneaux Islands. By the way, in order to be considered an island, the land has to stay above water 365 days-a-year and support a living tree.

The 1000 Island region (there are actually 1,864 islands)  is also home to two castles both of which are located on islands. The Boldt Castle, located on Heart Island (the name was officially changed by George Boldt from Hart to Heart, and was made to have the shape of a heart)  was built as a summer dream home and Valentine’s Day gift for his wife. The castle was built in the 1900s, the six-story castle was left unfinished after Louise Boldt suddenly passed away just months before moving in. George Boldt was the manager/owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  He is also credited with popularizing Thousand Island dressing at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The dressing is said to have been a recipe developed by a fishing guide’s wife from the St Lawrence River area and it was so well liked that George had his maître d’put it on the menu of the hotel. The hotel is also credited with introducing the Waldorf Salad.


The other castle is the Singer Castle on Dark Island. It was built by Frederick Bourne who was the 5th president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. The Castle, also know as The Towers, was built at the same time as the Boldt Castle.

Interestingly, the cruise company allowed dogs on their cruise so Copper joined us. There were a couple hundred of people on the three decks of the ship. We sat outside on the top deck. Copper thought it was all fine until the whistle blew……not being a fan of loud noises she was shaking for the remainder of the 2 1/2 hour trip. She was not a problem to others but we could tell she was uncomfortable.

Here she is saying….”Carl, SAVE ME!”


Well, that’s it from the 1,864 Islands. Moving to Vermont tomorrow.


“Niagara Falls is the hanging tongue on the face of the earth, drooling endlessly over its own beauty.”—Vinita Kinra


We drove from Grand Rapids, MI to Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada today approximately 380 miles. Total travel time was a little over 7 hours. It makes a difference pulling a trailer, our speed is usually 60 mph or less. Of course the back up at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron plus the traffic in Hamilton took their toll on travel time too.

After we got settled at the Niagra Falls KOA and had a quick dinner we headed to the Falls. We found a place to park ($18.00 Canadian) and walked along the beautifully landscaped walkway to the viewing areas.

Horseshoe Falls drop about 188 feet


Below is the Hornblower (formerly The Maid of the Mist) moving into the pools … was very misty on the viewing area where we were at the top of the falls, I can only imagine how misty it was for these folks.


The height of the American Falls varies between 70 and 100 feet


Both the American and Canadian sides of the falls are very commercialized. Lots of t-shirt sellers, casinos, House of Frankinsteins, Dinosaur Adventures, Rock and Roll and the like. It always amazes me that places of such beauty become so overdone.But I guess if we, the public demands it, that is what we get.IMG_8500.jpg

On October 24, 1901, 63-year-old Michigan school teacher Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to go over the falls in a barrel as a publicity stunt; she survived, bleeding, but otherwise unharmed. Soon after exiting the barrel, she said, “No one ought ever do that again”.  (…..good idea Anne!)





Opening Day

The opening day of Art Prize 8 is here. The day stated off with a thunderstorm so instead of heading to Grand Rapids first thing in the morning we waited until the rain let up and the thunder stopped (for Copper’s sake). We arrived in GR around 10:30 and one of out first stops was of course DeVos Center to see Carl’s piece hung on the wall. I was very fun to see a few people grouped around the photo as we were making our way up to it.IMG_8473.jpg

We spent the rest of the day walking all around the downtown area to see the art work. There is so much we missed, but again, there is so much we saw!

Loved seeing the trout bicycle!


The creator of this ball is actually living in it during Art Prize.



This wheel chair was made out of plastic toy soldiers.


This was a giant marble run!







Love Finds Us….photos of hearts found serindipidously in nature.


This sturgeon was created out of sand and took the artist about 1 full week of work on site to create. If some one sneezes….the sand is blown around. It was meant to illustrate the fragility of life. IMG_8447.jpg

A close up of sturgeon…incredibly detailed work.



The picture below was created with duct tape!


Fused glass



Crocheted flax



Upcycled bottle caps submitted by a middle school


One very interesting piece was a 12 hour video showing men sweep away time. The video actually showed the current time. The time in the video is 2:21  See the video HERE

and so much more.





Art Prize 8

Screenshot 2016-09-21 08.56.53.png

“ArtPrize is a radically open international art competition decided by public vote and expert jury that takes place each fall in Grand Rapids—and it’s all free and open to the public”.

We dropped off Carl’s Art Prize entry at the DeVos Center on Monday. We also took advantage of some of the entries that were viewable during the preview period. Art Prize officially opens Wednesday, Sept 21 at noon. This year their are 1,453 entries displayed at 170 different venues.

ArtPrize is recognized as the most-attended public art event on the planet according to The Art Newspaper, and was recently highlighted in The New York Times’ 52 Places To Go in 2016.

The streets are marked with various pathways to follow. Here I am on the central city pathway.


Here is just a sampling of some of the entries we saw on Monday.IMG_8436.jpg


The entry below is created from screw heads of different colors and depths!IMG_8384.jpg

These two entries were made of blocks of wood cut at different angles. No paint or stain used. With my spacial deficits it is incomprehensible how the artist did this! Incredible!!


This is another in the same vein….without the light on, no image….turn the light on and viola!


So realistic….both cool and creepy at the same time.


Crayons nestled in the crooks of trees outside of the Grand Rapids Public MuseumIMG_8421.jpg




These are collected daylily stems that create shadows and patterns on the mounting material.


….and finally a view of the iconic Blue Bridge as seen from the grounds of the Public Museum.


more to come. We are waiting out a thunderstorm before heading out to the official start of Art Prize 8. Voting starts at noon. Can’t wait to get my “art on”!

Back to Where We Started


We are camping in Zeeland, MI for convenience to both Art Prize and relatives in the area. Both of us were raised in the Holland/Zeeland area and still have some family in the area. The campground, Dutch Treat, is located in an area where Carl used to play as a child. A number of gravel pits were in this area and was a place for neighborhood kids to swim and fish.

This is a photo of Seymour getting his “dutch” on at Dutch Treat Campground.


We drove around Zeeland, past Carl’s childhood home and the neighborhood.  A lot has changed since that time!


We took a drive out to Ottawa Beach and Holland State Park to take in the sunset. It was a beautiful day and an equally lovely sunset . At the beach, parking was a a premium as many folks had the same idea we did in enjoying the sunset. We found a spot to park and walked out the channel side to enjoy the vistas. Beautiful evening. Copper enjoyed the walk as well.




The iconic lighthouse….Big Red



Day is done…..